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Daisy Lauver (nee Millington)

 

Sitting in an armchair at her Tucson, Arizona home watching the sun dip over the distant Catalina Mountains Daisy Lauver often thinks back to her happy childhood in Gwernymynydd.

Born Daisy Millington she says she enjoyed living at 2 Tai Gwynion, a row of now demolished cottages close to the junction of the Glyndwr Road and the main road through the village.

However, life in the village during the Second World War was very different than today according to Daisy.

She said: “We didn't have electricity and had only cold water. Any waste water had to be carried out to a drain in the front yard. We were used to this so we didn't think of it as a hardship.

“The main room had a fireplace with a connected oven and was our only source of heat. It may sound odd, but this crude oven, without any way to gauge temperature made the most beautiful cakes.”

Daisy lived at 2 Tai Gwynion with her parents while her maternal grandparents lived at 1 Tai Gwynion.

 GONE: The now demolished Tai Gwynion cottages

 She said: “My father, Samuel Millington, worked in the offices at John Summer's Steelworks. My mother stayed at home with us. My maternal grandfather, Robert Lloyd worked at Bryn Gwyn Quarries while my grandmother, Hannah, stayed at home. My paternal grandparents lived in Northop Hall so I didn't see them as often.

“My Taid, Robert Lloyd, worked at Bryn Gwyn quarry when I was a child. However, when his own family, my Nain and eight children were young, he worked at a colliery near Wrexham.

“The amazing thing to me is that he would walk home to Tai Gwynion for the weekend and then walk all the way back to work ready for work on Monday. Can you imagine anyone doing that these days?”

 However, according to Daisy times were so much simpler then and she says she feels blessed to have lived through those times.

She said: “One of my pleasures was to go with my Taid to collect hazel nuts, somewhere up the Glyndwr Road. Can you believe we used to crack them open with our teeth? I also went with him to collect damsons and mushrooms.

“One of my favourite things was to go with Taid up the Glyndwr Road to a farm for buttermilk. My Taid used to let me have a drink of it from the lid. To this day I love buttermilk, but it has never tasted as good as the buttermilk I got from the lid that Taid gave to me.”

Daisy went to school in the church in the lower village and says she can now only remember the name of one of her teachers, Irene Woodward.

She said: “The other teachers' names don't come to mind. However, I remember the American soldiers coming by the school when I was a pupil. Sometimes they were in tanks and sometimes in other military vehicles.

“The children would run to the wall because the Americans would throw chewing gum to us. I remember one time being in the upper village store, which was across from the Rainbow Inn, when an American came in for something and while he was there he wanted to buy some sweets, or candy as we call it, for me.

“I remember he was rather shocked he couldn't buy me any because I didn't have my ration card with me. We used to have to have our ration cards with us but even then we weren't allowed much candy each month.

Daisy also remembers prisoners of war that were put to work in Gwernymynydd’s quarries.

She said: “I remember the Italian prisoners of war that worked in the quarry right behind Tai Gwynion. The prisoners came for their meals at a building near the village garage just down from the Rainbow Inn.

“The prisoners used to walk up and down the road with a guard watching them. They collected twigs from the hedges across the road from our houses and used them to make little baskets. I received several baskets as gifts from them.”

And of course being so close geographically to Liverpool and its docks villagers had to observe the strict black-out.

Daisy says: “I remember the German airplanes flying over during the war. My mother could tell them by the sound they made. Someone had the duty to walk up and down the village to make sure there wasn't even the slightest chink of light showing from any window.

“Whenever we opened the door at night the light had to be turned down. We couldn't flip a switch because we had oil lamps. Instead we turned down the lamp and put something dark in front of it to make sure that it was dark enough.

“During the war I remember we children had gas masks. We had to take them to school from time to time in order that our teachers could be sure they were working correctly.

“To test them the teacher made us put them on and she would hold a piece of paper underneath the mask and check that the paper would be sucked up against the mask when we inhaled.”

However, once the war ended the village, like everywhere else across the UK held a big celebration.

Daisy said: “There was a big end of the war celebration in Gwernymynydd. I remember the King sent a pencil box and a letter to every pupil in Britain in commemoration. I still have my copy of the letter.

VICTORY LETTER: 

The letter Daisy received, as did every other pupil after the war from King George VI


“Another of our much anticipated pleasures was our annual Sunday School trip to Rhyl. They used a chartered bus to take us there. You wouldn't believe how excited we children were.

“Once we reached our early teens we were allowed to go to Mold on a Saturday evening to the Savoy. We hardly cared what movie was playing. Young people from a lot of the outlying villages would be there too.”

Daisy added: “I have visit Gwernymynydd several times over the years. It was with real sadness I saw that the White Houses (Tai Gwynion) were no longer there. However, even though the houses are gone it doesn't take away the happy memories I have of being raised there..”

After growing up in Gwernymynydd Daisy began work at RAF Sealand which is where she met her husband, Glenn Lauver.

Daisy said: “We enjoyed 53 years of marriage until Glenn passed away two years ago. We lived in lots of places due to the fact he was a career Air Force man.

“Upon his retirement, we decided to live in Tucson, Arizona, my favourite place of all the places we have lived including France, South Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Hawaii, where Glenn spent the last five years of his military service.

“It was a wonderful life, but I'm very happy settled here. We had four children, three sons and a daughter. Two sons and my daughter live here in Tucson while my eldest son lives in Florida. I have four granddaughters and this July I will have my first grandson.”

Daisy says she has quite a few visitors from both Wales and England dropping in to see her at her home in Tucson.

She said: “They seem to enjoy the Sonoran Desert. The large Saguaro cactus grows here - the only place in the world where they do.

“Also, visitors from Britain are amazed to see the cloudless blue sky day after day. Tucson is surrounded by mountains. The Catalina Mountains I see from my house are a favourite visitor attraction.

“I think it was about eight years ago we took some visitors up Mount Lemmon - that's how it's spelt - and were eating lunch at a restaurant. I noticed a young man sitting at one of the tables had a Tee-shirt on with Cymru on the front.

“I went over and asked him whether he was from Wales. He said "no," but he had just come back from vacationing there. I asked him where he visited. He answered something like: "you won't know it, it's a small town called Mold." I was amazed.

“I told him I went to school in Mold. He answered it wasn't exactly Mold it was a village called Gwernymynydd he had visited. I was floored. I couldn't believe I would meet somebody at the top of the mountains near my home who was familiar with Gwernymynydd. What are the odds? Small world or what?”

Daisy added: “I haven't been back to Wales since my husband died in 2008. All our four children have been to Wales and they all seem very proud of their Welsh heritage.

“And I'm very proud to say thay all my grandchildren as well as my step-granddson and step-granddaughter in Florida all call me Nain, while my American husband asked them to call him Taid.”

 (Daisy corresponded with Kevin Hughes for this article in March-May 2011)




Page Last Updated - 01/06/2011
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